Registered Nurses File an Opposition to Prevent the Imminent Closure of St. Vincent Medical Center Citing Grave Public Safety Risk
RNs Charge Verity with Failing to Follow State Laws in an Attempt to Eliminate Vital Medical Services
Registered nurses with the California Nurses Association (CNA) filed an opposition today with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California- Los Angeles Division to prevent the proposed imminent closure of St. Vincent Medical Center (SVMC) in Los Angeles, charging the closure presents a grave public safety risk and that Verity Health System (Verity) is failing to follow state laws. These laws include one statute that requires 90-day public notification before the closure of a medical facility that provides emergency medical services.
“St. Vincent provides care to more than 80 patients a day in our emergency room,” said Christine Chung, RN, citing statistics from California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. “Many of these patients are in critical condition, where seconds can mean the difference between life and death. I fear that closing St. Vincent could lead to unnecessary and preventable deaths.”
Furthermore, California Health and Safety Code 1255.1 requires hospitals that provide emergency medical services to give at least a 90-day notice to the public, as well as state and local governments, before reducing or eliminating services.
It is clear from court filings that Verity was aware in November 2019 that the deal to sell the hospital was in jeopardy of falling through, yet Verity made no attempt to warn the public or the employees of a potential closure in a timely manner. Instead, Verity waited until yesterday, January 6, to alert the public, just as Verity Health Systems was filing a request with the bankruptcy court to start closing the hospital next week.
The bankruptcy court is scheduled to hold the hearing on Verity’s emergency motion to close SVMC tomorrow. A decision is expected either tomorrow or Thursday, January 9.
“St. Vincent Medical Center has been serving our underserved population since it was founded in 1856 by the Daughters of Charity,” said Rachelle Agustin, a registered nurse who works in the intensive care unit. “Caring for the poor and sick has always been our mission. We call on the judge in this case to make the right decision and demand that Verity uphold the will of two Attorneys General who both recognized the importance of the hospital to the health and safety of three million people in Los Angeles.”
Last year, ahead of the expected sale of SVMC, Attorney General Xavier Becerra conditionally approved the sale if the buyer agreed to keep SVMC open for one year as a general acute care hospital with an emergency room. The conditions for the expected sale, echoed those put in place by then Attorney General Kamala Harris in 2015 when Verity purchased the hospital.
“For 38 years I have worked at St. Vincent and I am overcome by sadness to think what this hospital closure would mean to our patients in need,” said Nella Manaytay, a registered nurse who works in the intensive care unit. “I would like to ask all those who can help to join with us to stop the closure of the oldest hospital in Los Angeles.”